03.05.2017 23:57 - in: Champions League S

    Allegri demands professionalism in return leg

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    "Buffon is the best keeper in the world and has shown that tonight. Well done to the players and the team behind them," said the boss after the win over Monaco

    Massimiliano Allegri was in satisfied mood after his side blunted a fearsome Monaco attack to secure a 2-0 first-leg win in their Champions League semi-final, but the Juventus coach was quick to stress that the job was only half done.

    "You have to hand it to the players, because it wasn’t easy to come here to Monaco for the first leg," began Allegri after the final whistle. "That said, we still have to play the return leg – they have nothing to lose so we’ll need to do a professional job once again.

    "They’re a good side, a technically gifted side, but we started well. It was beginning to look easy, but we made a few mistakes and Gigi [Buffon] produced a great save at 0-0. They created a couple of good chances after we took the lead, but Gigi was there to save again so there’s plenty to be happy about."

    Andrea Barzagli had a smashing game on his return to the starting line-up, with Juan Cuadrado dropping to the bench and Dani Alves pushing up…

    "Given Monaco’s qualities and characteristics, as well as the absence of [Sami] Khedira, I needed a player that would do a job in terms of marking and is good in the air. That’s why I went with Barzagli, and he had a fantastic game. All of the defenders did very well – it’s games like this that show just how good these players are."

    The team looks to be in impeccable shape from a physical standpoint.

    "The credit for that goes to those behind them – to all the staff and coaches I work with. We did very well in the first half, especially at the start, but after the break we were playing man-to-man a bit too much. It was great that we scored on the counter, which is something Monaco are excellent at. This was a very tough match against a difficult team to play – a team that goes direct and makes the pitch long. We had to keep our defenders close to our midfielders and vice versa – it was important to stay compact."

    Gigi Buffon stepped up with another top performance tonight.

    "It almost goes without saying when it comes to these big matches. Gigi is the best goalkeeper in the world and he’s shown that tonight. The best players step up to the plate on nights like this."

    Dani Alves and Miralem Pjanic have really grown in importance. What’s the secret?

    "There are no secrets – it was just a case of them settling in. Dani had some time out with an injury and in the beginning he had to get used to Italian football. He contributes a lot more now and two of the passes he played to [Gonzalo] Higuain tonight were worthy of any playmaker.

    "Pjanic has come a long way. I’m annoyed with him in a way because he has the technical ability to become one of the three best midfielders in the world, but he needs to stay focused and believe in his own abilities. So far, he’s only shown a fraction of what he can do."

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